What a year has done for a player like Cody Franson. At 27 years old, the 6'5 defenseman with very good offensive ability thought a big pay day was coming his way. Instead he is now talking with the Buffalo Sabres about a potential 2 year deal (Money details not currently known). In the 2013-14 season, Franson had a very productive 79 games played. He finished with 5 goals and 28 assists for a total of 33 points. However unlike the year before where he had finished with a + rating, Franson's +/- plummeted to a -20 after a disastrous season for the Maple Leafs.
Last season was one of very low expectations for Toronto. They were expected to shop a lot of veteran players in order to start what will be a long and lengthy rebuild. This included Franson who in 55 games with the Maple Leafs tallied 6 goals and 26 assists, this time he only had a -7 rating. Not good but on a team with the talent Toronto did, not terrible either.
Toronto decided not to make Franson a part of the future and shipped him off to the playoff destined Nashville Predators. He had 4 points in 23 games with the Preds and played 5 playoff games with 2 assists. Now he is one of the few interesting skaters left in a depleted free agent market. Now he seems to have a team interested. The Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres are in a interesting situation on defense. With right handed cornerstones like Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, and Mark Pysyk all set to be on the top two pairings, Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray need to find some line mates for these young aspiring stars. Josh Gorges will be fully healthy presumably at the start of the regular season, he will likely be playing with either Ristolainen or Bogosian. Then there is prospect Jake McCabe who had a strong development camp in July. The big bodied bruiser should make the starting six over the likes of Mike Weber. Then there is Franson. As a right handed skater he doesn't help solve the Sabres struggle to find left handed d men, but Byslma has already stressed that Ristolainen could move to the left side if he works on it over camp and the preseason.
I expect Franson to end up on the third pair but don't be surprised if he plays on the second power play unit as well (barring he is signed of course). He has a very accurate shot from the point and isn't afraid to use his size along the boards and even with fore checking.
As for money it is expected that Franson's contract won't be a huge hit on the Sabres salary cap. This is huge with big pay days coming to Zemgus Girgensons, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Ristolainen in the next two seasons. Not to mention the big contract Ryan O'Reilly just signed in the summer.
Here is what I think the defensive line up will look like for the start of October.
LD 1: Rasmus Ristolainen
RD 1: Mark Pysyk
LD 2: Josh Gorges
RD 2: Zach Bogosian
LD 3: Jake McCabe
RD 3: Cody Franson
This should be a very solid signing by Tim Murray. The Sabres need some veterans to help show the way to Ristolainen, Pysyk, and McCabe.
Thanks for stopping in.
The Sabres and Cody Franson are closing in on a two year contract